Toxicology labs play a central role in testing services of all kinds, providing resources that are used to identify the presence of illicit substances in blood, urine, saliva, and hair. To most people who seek testing, the results are what matters most, but the process behind taking samples and seeing what arises is critically important. In many forms of testing, a toxicology lab is essential to the receipt meaningful outcomes.
What Does a Toxicology Lab Do?
A toxicology lab is a specialized lab environment in which drug tests, also known as tox screens, are conducted to evaluate the presence of illicit substances. These labs are available to test any kind of illicit substance, including both recreational and prescription drugs.
Rather than a test that comes back positive or negative, a toxicology test screens for specific levels of substances in order to determine the most accurate results possible. These boundaries are set in order to eliminate the likelihood of false positives while still being as sensitive possible rather than providing the simple yes or no delineation that is common with other testing methods, like a cup test for urine samples.
These benchmarks are the result of careful study and analysis in order to ensure precise outcomes with minimal likelihood of a false positive.
Governing Bodies for Toxicology Labs
Many industries are subject to oversight, and laboratories are no different. While there is no one governing body or regulatory agency that accredits toxicology labs, labs operating in the U.S. are subject to review or approval by a number of different organizations, like the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, the American Chemical Society, the American Industrial Hygiene Association, and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists – all groups that work with laboratories that utilize chemicals in processes and testing.
The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 can also play a role in the efficacy of laboratory testing. This Act, promoted by the CDC, is an amendment of the Public Health Services Act and is a federal program that oversees the clinical laboratory testing.
Different labs are held to different restrictions, largely due to the varying resources and responsibilities available therein. Some labs just test drugs, while other may test for diseases and other issues in addition to drugs. Governing bodies can depend on overall responsibilities.
Addiction Treatment Centers and Toxicology Labs
Addiction treatment centers and toxicology labs often have a strong connection, in large part due to the importance of testing in maintaining a rehabilitation environment.
Staying in a rehab facility requires being sober, and in some cases, those who are working through addiction can struggle to refrain from use. In order to ensure all members of a treatment program are adhering to the rules, treatment centers regularly drug test participants. This can occur on a regular basis or spontaneously as needed. Regardless of practice, a toxicology lab is an essential part of determining the presence of drugs or alcohol in members of a treatment program.
Improving Treatment Outcomes
A big part of facilitating sobriety is, of course, ensuring that participants remain sober. All of the teachings in the world can’t help those who don’t want to stop using, resulting in ongoing drug testing of members of rehabilitation courses.
Drug testing participants may appear, on the surface, to be a violation of trust, but this isn’t generally the case. Those who are truly dedicated to a program, including the pursuance of sobriety, are those most likely to succeed. In order to verify that participants are adhering to the program and committing to sobriety, testing is a common and effective tool.
Sending those with evidence of a substance use disorder to rehabilitation is often the first step for concerned friends and family members, but no one can get well without a true desire. Those who stay sober throughout treatment are more likely to want to see results, and testing via a toxicology lab can confirm this. For this reason, confirming sobriety can improve treatment options, ensuring only those who truly want to live a clean and healthy life receive access to care.
The Evolving Role of Toxicology Labs
While toxicology labs used to be the sole resource for companies or treatment centers in need of drug testing, this is no longer the case. Numerous alternatives exist, including panel cups, in which a testing strip is located directly in a urine cup.
Despite these advancement, toxicology labs still play an important role in the world of drug testing. The cutoff levels in screening cups are generally far less sensitive than more precise toxicology screenings. Further, cups that test positive are frequently sent to a lab for confirmation. As the testing methods are superior in a lab environment, labs are often used to confirm results by retesting samples and confirming that suspected substances occur at the proper levels. If a urine test doesn’t screen for all necessary substances, a test by a toxicology lab can examine samples for additional solutions as well, if a company or center that requests a test believes there are other problems at hand.
Toxicology labs play an important role in drug testing of all kinds, providing consistent results and reliable confirmations regardless of circumstance. With scrutiny by government and regulatory bodies of numerous types, depending on the characteristics of the labs in question, labs, like toxicology screening labs and those that offer expanded services, like testing for diseases and genetic challenges, provide services that clients and customers alike can trust to be legitimate.